ANTONIN ROLLAND LED RACE IN 1955
Like today, taking the yellow jersey was a big event, especially if you were a French rider. I know that when I was a kid and used to dream of racing the Tour de France, the idea of having the yellow jersey was quite magical.
I would not say it changed my life, but it certainly put something extra in my legs. Having the yellow jersey did change your status within the bunch. It is like becoming the king of this little planet that is the Tour de France. You do find yourself with a little bit more space in the bunch because the riders have such great respect for it. [On the day he took it] I knew I was going to be presented with the yellow jersey, but I refused to put it on until the bunch had finished almost 12 minutes behind us and the result became official. I did not want it to be taken away from me if there was some kind of timing error. It was presented to me by Yvette Horner, the famous accordion player and singer who was just about the only woman on the race and used to perform on top of a vehicle in the publicity caravan.
The podium was nothing more than a platform and the ceremony was over in a minute. You would get the jersey, then ride off in it to your hotel as soon as possible. There were not any press conferences. The journalists would do their interviews in the riders’ hotel rooms, which was not a problem. I do sympathise with the riders now who have to wait for so long to fulfil protocol commitments.
Respect: Antonin Rolland wore the yellow jersey for 12 days in 1955